ISACA acts to close gender gap in technology

“I’ve sat in many boardrooms where I am the only woman in the room, or been the only female at an IT conference or in my department,” says Jo Stewart-Rattray, international board director at ISACA.

“Sadly, over my 25-year career, not much has changed, and we’re now in 2016. And I know from speaking with other women leaders, they have had similar experiences.”

Stewart-Rattray, director of information security and IT assurance at BRM Holdich in Australia, explains her personal experience in relation to ISACA’s new programme Connecting Women Leaders in Technology.

ISACA is a global association serving 100,000 IT governance, assurance and security professionals.

The Connecting Women Leaders in Technology programme will provide a “robust platform” to attract more women into the technology professions, and provide mentoring and tools to help advance and sustain women’s careers in the sector, says Stewart-Rattray.

Stewart-Rattray heads ISACA’s Women in Leadership Council, along with other female technology executives across the globe.

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I’ve sat in many boardrooms where I am the only woman in the room, or been the only female at an IT conference or in my department . Sadly, over my 25-year career, not much has changed. Jo Stewart-Rattray, ISACA

Stewart-Rattray points out Deloitte Global projects less than 25 per cent of IT jobs in developed countries will be held by women at the close of this year.

“Yet, we know that having women in the workplace adds to diversity of thought and increases the bottom line,” she says.

She says another study of 22,000 global public companies, by Peterson Institute for International Economics and Ernst and Young, shows that the net profit margin of a company can be increased by 6 per cent if a company has a minimum of 30 per cent of women in the C-suite.

“This is a global phenomenon, and there are many we, as ICT leaders, need to address in order to encourage and keep women in our industry,” says Stewart-Rattray.

She says these include businesses providing flexible work options; male and female ICT leaders mentoring, sponsoring and encouraging young professionals to understand the career path and rewards; and instilling in female students the confidence to follow their passion and be resilient when they may be the only female student in their class/field of study.

As to what worked for her in advancing her career in the male-dominated information technology sector, she says, “I have had to work incredibly hard and make sure I act on well-informed decisions based on fact.”

“You cannot afford to operate on emotion. I’ve had to demonstrate my qualifications and have the confidence to actively seek job opportunities.”

“I learned early on to find male and female role models and mentors to look up to and guide me in my career,” she says.

“In terms of mentoring, from my personal experience, I have learned just as much from young professionals I’ve coached as they have.

“It has been an enriching and rewarding experience for me, especially when they have been recognised and excelled in their career by following their passion.”

She says her membership and involvement in ISACA allowed her to network with local and global peers.

"Go for it," is her message to high school and university students on why they should pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers. “If you have a passion for IT, the industry can be very rewarding and exciting.

“Don’t be daunted when you walk into a room and it’s full of men,” she adds. “Have the resilience and confidence to seek out the career you want, and find a mentor or bright star that can help guide you along the way.”

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